When you send your child to a New Mexico school, you understand that he or she must adhere to certain behavioral standards and codes of conduct. For example, your child’s school may have a dress code that outlines what he or she can wear while in an instructional setting. While schools do have the right to dictate certain things, your child has rights as well. It is for the benefit of you and your student to know where the school’s authority ends and your child’s rights begin.
Schools must treat all students fairly and equally, and when they fail to do this, the student has the right to speak out. If you have concerns about the treatment your child is experiencing at school, you may find it helpful to learn more about student rights and ways you can fight back. It is possible to hold liable parties accountable for a violation of his or her civil rights.
Know your rights
Every student will find it helpful to know his or her rights and what to do in the event that the student experiences unfair treatment from a teacher, school staff or administrator. Some of the most basic rights of all students include:
- Students have the right to free speech. Students should not experience punishment for expressing opinions, even if it goes against the beliefs and opinions of the staff.
- Schools cannot discriminate against undocumented students, and they cannot refuse a child an education because of the status of his or her parents.
- Schools cannot use the dress code as a way to unfairly target, discriminate, humiliate or punish a student on the basis of his or her gender or gender expression.
- Schools cannot discriminate against LGBT or disabled students, and they must provide these students equal opportunities in the classroom.
- Students who are pregnant should not experience mistreatment or discrimination on the basis of their condition.
If you believe your child is the victim of discrimination, harassment or any type of mistreatment that violates his or her rights, it is appropriate to take legal action on his or her behalf. As a parent, you may take necessary steps to hold parties accountable for what your child experienced, including a claim through the civil justice system. This allows you to fight for damages you and your family deserve for mental and emotional duress.